Davis Cup set to undergo revamp to become World Cup-style finale
The Davis Cup is set to be transformed into an end-of-season 'World Cup of tennis', the International Tennis Federation confirmed yesterday.
The ITF have announced plans for an 18-team event to take place in one location every November, with a view to launching the revamped competition next year.
In a statement outlining a 25-year, $3bn partnership with investment group Kosmos, ITF president David Haggerty said it would be a game-changer for the competition.
"Our vision is to create a major season-ending finale that will be a festival of tennis and entertainment, featuring the world's greatest players representing their nations to decide the Davis Cup champions," he said.
The new format will be the biggest revamp of the Davis Cup in its 118-year history as organisers attempt to rejuvenate a competition that has suffered in recent years, with more and more top players not turning out.
In the current format, 16 countries take part in a knockout competition starting in February and culminating in the final in November. Each tie is best-of-five matches, four singles and one doubles.
Barcelona and Spain footballer Gerard Pique, founder and president of Kosmos, has been a prime mover in the plans to transform the event.
The investment from Kosmos will include significant increases in prize money for players and ITF member nations, according to the sport's London-based governing body. It would also help fund grass-roots projects.
"This is a complete game-changer for the ITF and for tennis," Haggerty said. "This new partnership will not only create a true World Cup of Tennis, but will also unlock record levels of new investment for future generations of players and fans."
The ITF said several "world-class" cities had expressed interest in hosting the new event.
The plans will be submitted to the ITF Annual General Meeting, to be held in August in Orlando, Florida and a two-thirds majority will be required for final approval.
"Kosmos is thrilled to join in this exciting partnership with the ITF," Pique said. "Together we can elevate the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas to new heights by putting on a must-see World Cup of Tennis Finals featuring the top nations and top players."
The event would be run on a round-robin format before a knockout phase, with matches consisting of two singles and one doubles rubber. Matches will be played over best-of-three sets.
16 World Group nations will automatically qualify for the Finals, with a further two nations to be selected.
Meanwhile, World No.1 Roger Federer's ex-coach Stefan Edberg has backed the Swiss maestro's great rival Rafael Nadal to match his record of 20 Grand Slams.
Edberg, a former World No.1 and a winner of six Majors, who coached Federer from 2013 to 2015, also opined the Swiss was indeed the greatest of all time.
"There have been a lot of great players but if you look at his (Federer) record, No.1 (for the longest) number of weeks, the most Slams, he is probably the greatest of all time," Edberg said.
"If there is another who could do the same, it's Nadal. He is still young enough to get up there.
"And you have Novak Djokovic. Those are the two who have a chance to get to 20."